Newcastle stun Arsenal with remarkable four-goal fightback
Newcastle make Arsenal pay price the price for Diaby's second-half dismissal as goals flow at St James' Park
Newcastle recovered from a disastrous first half to stage a remarkable four-goal comeback against ten-man Arsenal in a breathtaking encounter at St James’ Park.
The gunners romped into a 4-0 lead in front of an edgy home crowd with Theo Walcott and Johan Djourou putting Arsene Wenger’s men two up before Robin van Persie netted a brace in a dominant first-half display from the visitors.
But Abou Diaby’s dismissal five minutes into the second half triggered an Arsenal collapse. With 22 minutes left to play, Barton dispatched his spot-kick after Laurent Koscielny brought down Leon Best before the striker added one of his own to make it 4-2.
Koscielny was then adjudged to have fouled Mike Williamson in the box and Barton put away his second from the spot before Cheik Tiote completed the unlikely comeback with a stunning volley from 25 yards.
Arsenal, looking to close the gap on leaders Manchester United, took the lead after just 42 seconds when Walcott raced past Fabricio Coloccini and calmly slotted past Steve Harper. And just moments later non-existent marking by the home defence allowed Djourou the opportunity to head home a second from Andrey Arshavin’s free-kick.
Walcott was then instrumental in creating the away side’s third after a hectic opening 12 minutes. The 21-year-old winger sprinted past Jose Enrique before crossing low for van Persie, who steered his effort past Steve Harper.
If Arsenal’s third had sealed the points then van Persie’s second and the gunners’ fourth just shy of the half-hour mark surely guaranteed the win. The Dutchman headed home Bacary Sagna’s whipped cross to put the gunners four up before the break.
But Diaby’s red card after the re-start swung the match in Newcastle’s favour. Diaby, deputising for Alex Song, clashed with Barton after he reacted angrily to the midfielder’s heavy challenge.
Walcott was guilty of selfishness when he failed to square a pass to Arshavin or Cesc Fabregas as Arsenal countered against two Newcastle defenders as they looked for a fifth.
But minutes later Newcastle were awarded a penalty after Koscielny fouled Best and Barton calmly converted the spot-kick with 22 minutes remaining.
Best then shaved another goal off Arsenal’s lead when the Ireland striker met Enrique’s cross. He out-jumped and out-muscled left-back Gael Clichy and rifled home a low shot from the loose ball.
Referee Phil Dowd then pointed to the spot again after the linesman penalised Koscielny for a second time, this time for a phantom challenge on Sean Williamson. Barton delicately chipped the ball over Wojciech SzczÃ„â„¢sny from the spot to inject further adrenalin into the home side.
Alan Pardew’s men then completed a memorable fight-back with three minutes remaining. Arsenal’s tired legs failed to close down Tiote after defending a free-kick and the Newcastle midfielder aimed a left-footed volley past SzczÃ„â„¢sny to secure an unlikely point and dent Arsenal’s title hopes.